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Improving Your Emotional Fitness for a Healthier 2021


With the stressful effects of the pandemic continuing into the New Year, your emotional fitness remains just as important as your physical wellbeing.

With one in four people worldwide suffering from mental health issues to varying degrees, it is critical to incorporate activities into your routine which will help you cope with the stresses of everyday life.

Try using these quick and simple tricks throughout the day to stay motivated, keeping stress and anxiety to a minimum.

Targeted at those working in a high-stress environment, they should be particularly useful for those in investment banking.

1. Change your language when talking about yourself or your tasks

Some tasks can be daunting. Some can be stressful. They can also cause an immense amount of self-doubt. It’s very easy to look at your schedule, get overwhelmed and think you won’t be able to get through everything.

Thinking like this lowers productivity and motivation, creating anxiety about yourself as a worker.

By changing your language, you can change your mindset. Instead of “I can’t do this”, try “I can do this, it may just take longer than I hoped”. Replace “it’s too hard” with “I don’t understand this now, but I will learn by doing this task”.

You wouldn’t think so, but small consistent changes make all the difference to your mental health. Soon these become habit and you will feel more positive about yourself.

2. Do activities outside your house

It may sound simple, but a walk can do wonders for your health. Even if it’s a five-minute stroll down the road. It will get your blood circulating again and promote serotonin, helping the mind to refocus.

To keep it interesting you could join a dog-walking group – owning a dog isn’t a necessity as many shelters let people take their dogs out for walks.

When your home doubles as your office it’s difficult to get away from the work mindset, so find something outside to break it up.

3. Learn to enjoy the simple pleasures in your day

When people have busy lives, it’s hard to remember to find joy in the little things. By recognising the small things that make you feel good, you can put a more positive spin on your day.

So, when you have that first cup of tea/coffee (cigarette) in the morning, or your pet comes over to sit next to you, take a minute to stop and appreciate the moment and the joy it gives you.

4. Create a focused workspace

Again, a very clichéd tip, but it’s a cliché for a reason. A cluttered workspace creates a cluttered mind, meaning you can’t work effectively. A pen pot is your life saver, so use one!

Make use of drawers to clear out unnecessary papers. The only things you should have on your desk are what you need that day – computer, notebook, pen pot and a glass of water/hot drink. A small plant isn’t a bad idea either.

5. Break your day up into small chunks of one hour at a time

It’s difficult to focus for much longer than 45 minutes at a time, so make sure you don’t work for more than an hour before taking a break. After this, get a snack, make some tea, walk around your garden for five minutes.

Alternatively, try simple mindfulness meditation! These are particularly important after stressful situations and can be done at your desk.

Sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on your breathing, letting your mind go empty – this can really calm you down and refocus the mind. Give your brain a much-needed reset and then get back to working at full capacity.

If you find it difficult to relax, try listening to calming music, or download apps such as Calm and Headspace, which have short mindfulness tracks for you to listen to while you meditate.

6. Don’t be afraid to seek support

If these exercises aren’t enough, reach out to those around you for further support. Investment banks are increasing their efforts to help employees with the effects their work has on their mental health, and to reduce the stigma surrounding it.

For example, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley, amongst others, are members of City Mental Health Alliance – a not-for-profit organisation in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia that works with investment banks to create mentally healthy workplaces.

Make the most of this type of support at your workplace, talk to a friend/family member, and if necessary, seek professional guidance.

If you aren’t mentally and emotionally healthy, your work will suffer. In the high-pressure environment of investment banking, it’s especially important to take time throughout the day to make yourself feel better.

As we enter 2021, try something new from the above list and give yourself the best chance of staying emotionally fit in what are undoubtably difficult circumstances.

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